Monday, June 1, 2009

...and so it begins

Summer vacation is fast approaching. Know how I can tell? NASDAQ reports my Valium stock tripled in the last week. Yesss! It will stay high until September. Then it will drop off for a while, only to spike again some time around December 15th.

We’ve weathered another school year, and now it’s time for three months of family togetherness. Twelve long, hot weeks of bored fourth-graders, all night TV marathons, and teenagers sleeping until 11:58, when they’ll roll out of bed directly into their swimsuits to get a jump on that poolside nap. See why I invest in Valium?

The real question on everyone’s minds, of course, is “If I start driving now, can I make it to Buenos Aires before anyone notices I’m missing?”

The answer is, no, you can’t. Alarm bells go off in your kids’ heads when you sneak off to the bathroom, for heaven’s sake! What chance do you have of achieving the kind of perimeter breach necessary to make it to WalMart, let alone the Argentine border?

No, mom, you’re going to have to accept the reality that it’s just you and your offspring from now until Labor Day, or that glorious day when they finally pull the paddy wagon up to your door and haul you off for good, whichever comes first.

Because I’m extremely altruistic, and because I’m still avoiding e-mailing my son’s principal in the hopes that she, like any school administrator with an ounce of survival instinct, will spend the next four days hiding behind the filing cabinet in a drunken stupor (thereby forgetting all about me and my homework-challenged kid) I’ve developed this quiz to help you determine how prepared you are for the next ninety-one days, eleven hours and twenty-eight minutes.

This exhaustively researched questionnaire comes from 22 years of experience with not actually wrapping my loving hands around the throats of four kids who, surrounded by ten thousand DVDs, nine hundred video games, three separate game systems, two computers, five televisions, a million books and magazines, a swimming pool complete with basketball hoop and volleyball net, six bicycles, a couple of skateboards, a dozen pairs of roller blades, and a scooter, can still muster the jaw-dropping audacity to whine that “there’s nothing to do in this stupid house”.

Seriously, I belong in "Ripley’s".

Anyway, good luck with this. Hopefully I’ll remember to put the answers somewhere near the end, although if you’re even taking the test in the first place, it’s probably too late for you already.

1: During summer break, the average teenager requires how much sleep per night?

a) Twenty-six hours.

b) As much as necessary to avoid mowing the lawn the next morning.

c) Ha! Trick question! Teenagers don’t sleep at night. They’re like vampires, locked away in their crypts ‘til sundown and then haunting your house, deflouring the pantry and sucking the refrigerator dry.

2: Immediately after Satan was tossed out of heaven, he did three things: Tempted Eve, opened an insurance company, and…

a) Invented red popsicles, which have such astonishing staining power they are capable of destroying clothes you haven’t even purchased yet.

b) Put into the mind of man the idea that precariously balancing a paper plate on your knees while eating a meal composed of a half-cooked cheeseburger, potato salad and gnats is a fabulous summer activity.

c) Arranged for there to be NO holidays during the month of August, which is fine for Utahns on account of their basically taking off all of July like the camping and boating religious fanatics they are, but which pretty much has the rest of us clawing at our faces and screaming, “School doesn’t start for HOW many more weeks??”

3: Let’s talk family vacations! A road trip with children is totally doable, provided you have which necessary supplies?

a) A gallon of Nyquil and a large funnel.

b) The entire “Dora the Explorer” DVD collection, a half-ton of assorted action figures and stuffed animals, every cracker, gummy treat, cereal bar and juice box Costco sells, books, crayons, neck pillows, diapers, wipes, plastic grocery bags in case of barfing, plastic grocery bags for storing the clothes when the barf misses the other plastic grocery bags, plastic grocery bags for putting over your own head when the rest of it just gets to be too much….

c) An airplane.

4: Everyone is feeling the economic pinch this year, so more and more families are choosing to vacation close to home. Of course, vacationing at home works best when…

a) You live in Disneyland.

b) Your next-door neighbors are Siegfried and Roy.

c) You finally receive your 20% cut promised you by that poor Nigerian princess whose wicked stepmother conspired to have her father assassinated to gain control of his vast wealth and to finally stop having to kiss a fat, stinky political despot full on the mouth, only to banish said poor Nigerian princess to a refugee camp while holding on to the PNP’s passport and inheritance, but thankfully NOT her laptop (which miraculously includes camp-to-camp internet access) thereby enabling her to find YOU out of the billions of e-mail accounts out there and alert you to her plight, from which you gladly rescued her because apparently you have the critical thinking skills of dandruff. So now you’re set.

5: Another favorite vacation option is to travel to a popular destination and stay with friends or family, which allows you to both save money and shorten your Christmas card list. There’s nothing like dropping in on someone for a couple of weeks over the summer to guarantee your having fewer friends come September. I live in Las Vegas, and would be happy to host any of you as long as you bring which essentials?

a) Your own towels. And food. Oh, and bed. Room. Bedroom.

b) Tranquilizer darts for your four year-old, who otherwise keeps trying to ride my golden retriever and insists on piddling in my pool.

c) A map to the strip and the words, “Please, we wouldn’t think of asking you to drive us to a place where, for your trouble, you can enjoy six hours of your kids pestering for eight-dollar-a-pound M&Ms while your shoes melt right into the sidewalk” tattooed on your forehead.

d) Four tickets to “Mystere” and an offer to buy me a very large, very expensive steak.

6: Finally, summer will draw to a close, and it will be time to think about getting back to school. I advise limbering up a little before attempting any cheer kicks or hurkies. Of course, preparing your kids for that big First Day is one of the most important of all summer activities. What will you need most in order to make this run to the start of school a success?

a) A crystal ball. This is very important for determining what shoe and clothing brands all the popular kids will be wearing, what kind of backpack they’ll be sporting, how they’ll be doing their hair, what gum they’ll be chewing, and the direction in which they’ll be rolling their eyes when they see your kid looking every bit as cute but somehow not as cool, thus allowing your child to start the year singing the traditional ‘tween anthem “I Hate My Life And It’s All Your Fault.”

b) Reams of wide ruled paper, wire bound theme books, four dozen pencils and pencil sharpener, black ballpoint pens, yellow highlighters, and two hundred dollars’ worth of three-ring binders designed to look like laptop computers.

c) A thesaurus when the words “Are you freaking KIDDING me??” are not adequate upon discovering that your kids really need college ruled paper, thread bound theme books, mechanical pencils, blue ballpoint pens, pink highlighters, and twelve pocket folders with butterfly fasteners. Cleverly designed three-ring binders are banned this year because a student in Urban Myth, North Dakota supposedly smuggled a fifth of tequila into his middle school inside a binder shaped, ironically, like a fifth of tequila.

d) A fifth of tequila.

So, how’d you do? Ready for summer break? Well, no matter. Between the popsicles and the prescription meds, we’ll all manage to survive, although I fear our houses will be totalled. This kind of time with our families doesn’t come along every year, you know, and we have to make the most of it.

Wait…there was something wrong with that sentence…

Oh, well, I’m not going to worry about it! Instead I’m going to whip up a potato salad, throw a couple of burgers on the barbeque, and join my teenager poolside for a long summer’s nap.

Feel free to join us! Bring your kids! Bring the tequila! Heck, bring the Nigerian princess! Just don’t forget where I live and who my neighbors are. You’ll need your towel and plenty of tranquilizer darts, 'cause Siegfried and Roy’s pets are kind of funny about four year-olds.


Lela said...

You are fabulous. I'm linking to this on my 'Survive the Summer' post next week. Good luck with yours...

Kristina P. said...

You are amazing. I would love to be inside that brain of yours.

The Garden of Egan said...

Is it OK that when I come to stay with you I bring my 6 grandchildren and my mother in law? I'm sure they'll be no problem at all, except they don't like mayonnaise with their tuna sandwich, only miracle whip. Oh, and then there's the one kid that pees the bed........or is that my MIL? Oh, well, no matter I'm sure you can handle it. And do you mind babysitting while I hit the strip?

Melanie J said...

I highly recommend giving away half your children for the summer, preferably the half that isn't totally entertained by dust bunnies and foam blocks. That's what I do and it works out fine.

aunt dyanne said...

If I promise not to bring any 4 year olds, bring my own 8 buck a pound of m&m's, sleep elsewhere, swim elsewhere, show up with sweet delicious treat, plenty of chilled diet coke, keep the one kid that travels with us off the piano AND pay a visit to the principal while in town - can we come visit? lunch? a phone call while in the vicinity?

Shantel said...

My grandfather used to cleverly disguise his Fifth of Whiskey by throwing a dish towel over it and telling us it was his cough medicine. It must have worked - he sure didn't cough alot.
This summer with little ones under foot will be interesting - I am praying that the Max and Ruby and Hannah Montana hold old with the "funness" (as my son calls it) or I am SO coming to your house for the Valium. (and the tequila - I mean cough medicine!)

Rachel said...

I am convinced that my children have secretly installed silent alarms in the bathroom and the baby's crib. As soon as they go off, they know it is time to start shrieking and panicking over the spider on the ceiling.

Dirt Clustit said...

I hope you're joking about the "half cooked hamburgers"

Brooke said...

I don't know how a human being is even able to SURVIVE a Las Vegas summer. Do you just lay out by the pool with a gallon of sunscreen and a turkey baster?

Of course, I'm prejudiced. When it hits 80 up here in the PNW, we cry like babies and hang out all day at the grocery store because it's the only place that has A/C. :-)

AS Amber said...

Oh my heck. Too funny, sister. You are brilliant. The red popcicle thing made me laugh right out loud. Actually, I was pretty much laughing through the whole thing.

And because we've taken all of July off, they think it's ok to have school start half way through August. Jerks.

AS Amber said...

Oh and one more thing:

What's the one thing everyone should have in order to survive the summer?

An ex-husband.

Melissa said...

Hysterical! Summer is when being a working mom really pays off.
Wait, I take that back. They just did all kinds of crazy things that I didn't hear about until I got home if at all.

Karen said...

You never disappoint! Every time I see a new blog post from you, I know I have to grab a tissue because my eyes will leak from laughing so hard!

Sher said...

I'm with Amber. I've often thought, wouldn't it be nice to have another set of parents to send the kids off to every other weekend?
Wish there was some way to master that without actually having to get divorced.

Jessica said...

One way to avoid the "summer boredom" is to school year around. At my house we are always together, always working, and always driving each other CRAZY! It doesn't take a special occasion to make me want to run away, just a typical day :)

InkMom said...

See, summers aren't so bad for me. Because they are EXACTLY LIKE EVERY OTHER DAY OF THE YEAR. Not to rush the whole turning 5 and starting kindergarten -- which is full day in NC -- thing, but you know. Relief! It's still over a year away! And before it arrives, I'm having another baby?

I think my husband must have dose me with . . . something. Otherwise, I don't think I would have done this to myself.

Imagine the damage two four-year olds, a giant 2 1/2 year old and a lazy pregnant woman could do. It's tempting. Truly, it is.

Shawn said...

Well, you should move to New England,---we don't get out of school until the end on June and go back sometimes before Labor Day!

Only two months to freak out!

Beka said...

Oh how I've missed you! (I had some surgery and couldn't get to the computer.) I have a friend who insists that if I would simply apologize to my mother for the singing of said anthem, my own children would not so readily hate me and blame me and otherwise... well, do what I did.

Homer and Queen said...

I'm with you and the valium...'cept I would toss S&R the 11 yr. old...Am I going to hell for saying that? Oh well...

Amy said...

You're list is far more complicated than mine. My list has one item on it, a live in nanny.

I'm trying to live simply.

Debbie said...

What is it about teenagers and sleep? Another hysterical post.

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Hi DeNae, I HAVE MISSED YOU! I'm sorry I haven't been around. May is worse than December I've decided. I leave for NY and DC on Tuesday with my kids (History Day) so I will be gone again. But after I make breakfast for Martha's birthday (hee hee hee even on Fast Sunday--is that rude?) I am going to come and revel in your wonderful words.


The Crash Test Dummy said...

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

You are so good, girl, your verifier say scorse. You are like Martin Scorse! You're that good!

Here is the greatest compliment ever. You remind me of Erma Bombeck! LOVE HER! and David Sedaris! LOVE HIM.

When is your book of essays coming out so I can say I KNEW YOU WHEN!?

fawndear said...

Oh My HONK! I'm so there with you. Laughed till I snorted. Now my throat hurts. I've got a couple of dememtors as teenagers and when they aren't sucking the living joy out of every last ounce of my body - well they're sleeping.

Our school isn't even out for two weeks and I'm already looking forward to fall.